The South Beach Diet Goes Gluten Free

south beach diet gluten free


That’s the number of book sales for the original South Beach Diet by Dr. Arthur Agatston. Not too shabby.

I once wrote a book called The Bartender’s Handbook: Making Drinks and Making Money. I think it had about 23 sales. Very shabby.

I am not here to question the legitimacy or effectiveness of the South Beach Diet. Nor am I here to directly question Dr. Agatston’s motives. (Indirectly? Sure.)

Like always, my goal is to open up a discussion.

Dr. Agatston has released a new book called The South Beach Diet Gluten Solution. As soon as I heard about it, my initial reaction was “Oh crap”.

But I did a little digging and now my reaction is “Oh double crap”.

You see, anytime gluten-free gets portrayed in a faddish way, I’m convinced it hurts those who NEED to be gluten free for health reasons.

It’s simple…you turn it into a fad diet and the chances increase that we get taken less seriously. Getting taken less seriously means people in charge of making our food, whether it be food manufacturers or restaurants, will be less likely to take the necessary precautions to keep us safe.

There’s gold in them thar hills as people and companies try to cash in on the gluten-free craze before it loses steam and is taken over by something else.

I swear if a 30 Day Bacon Diet came out, people would buy into it (and who wouldn’t…it’s BACON!)

Have I read the book? I have not and feel free to judge me on commenting about something I haven’t read. I’m fair game. But here are my thoughts.

– Right on the book cover, it says “The Gluten Aware Plan for Losing Weight…”

Oh Puke! If you’ve got celiac disease and you go gluten-free, you will not lose weight. Odds are, you’ll gain it since you are finally absorbing nutrients. But that doesn’t sell books.

– The author’s intentions seem sorta kinda good, but he gives mixed messages. The official book description says the following:

The truth is, not everyone needs to give up gluten permanently — nor does doing so guarantee weight loss. With Dr. Agatston’s phased Gluten Solution Program, based on proven South Beach Diet eating principles, you’ll be able to determine your own level of gluten sensitivity — and you’ll drop up to 10 pounds in just two weeks.

Huh?? It won’t guarantee weight loss but, wink wink, you will lose 10 pounds in two weeks. It just sounds snake-oily.

– Dr. Agatston says that “50 percent of Americans have some degree of gluten sensitivity”.

Where the hell did he get this number from? Leading celiac expert Dr. Alessio Fasano puts the estimate at 6% to 7%.

Dr. Agatston specifically says he is not selling gluten phobia, but it sure doesn’t sound that way. I would love to know his sources.

– If he thought gluten was a serious issue and a weight loss tool, why didn’t he mention it until now? A cynic would say he is simply trying to cash in on the gluten-free bandwagon.

Thank goodness I’m not a cynic.

What are your thoughts?

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39 thoughts on “The South Beach Diet Goes Gluten Free”

  1. Here I was, hoping that by 2014/2015 this ‘Glutenfree is AWSOME! Trend’ would have left the world and people would be preaching something else.
    But I slowly start to believe I was so wrong and we are just at the beginning of this trend.
    If this book is selling as good as the first one, also international, I don’t want to know what will happen with us, or to us.

  2. Good Morning all 🙂

    Well, you know GD there is a 30 day bacon diet out there – it’s called Scarsdale and is still out there!

    In general terms if your average person goes “gluten free” and I use the quotes because it usually is not really the case, but they are cutting down madly on the obvious sources (bread, etc) they will lose weight and the 10 lbs in 2 weeks really does happen, but this is usually due to the fact that their diets are so poor to begin with.

    If anyone remembers the old Atkins diet (pre product line, when you got the book and followed the directions and recipes within) you could lose 10-15 lbs in 2 weeks, in fact most did. But – and it is a big but – there were strict directions in the book that you were not to follow that diet for more than 2 weeks at a time – it was to be alternated with 2 weeks of maintainance eating.

    I guess what I am trying to say is that these “gluten free” diet plans do work for a lot of people on the same principles that Atkins did – low carb, low calorie and adjusting their intake from something that was wrong in the first place.

    That being said it is really unfortunate that their existence muddies the waters for those of us that need to be strictly, totally gluten free in a real sense and makes people take the actual disease less seriously.

    Making sure that people know the difference in spite of all of the fluff out there – how do we do that among all of the faddy stuff – I guess that is the real question here. I for one am getting really tired of getting GF stuff pushed at me in restaurants, etc., that really is not – and getting lip when this is pointed out to the staff.

    Got served a creme brulee on my birthday in a restaurant where I knew that this was prepared from a mix that was NOT GF at all. Waiter/ manager argued with me. Big mistake. Had them drag out the packaged mix, pointed out the offending ingredient, looked said ingredient up on the net (via smartphone) showed them, watched their little jaws drop when they realized – told them that this would not hurt a dieter but could potentially put someone with celiac down for the count for a week or more. Not pretty. Not fun, and not a great birthday present for sure 🙂

    Lather rinse repeat. At least I knew enough not to touch the stuff. Oh, and those staff members will not forget my visit soon. Hate causing a scene, but really hate being poisoned more.


    1. Kudos to you for being a strong advocate for yourself. There are many out there who wouldn’t go that far to question the staff. And that, my friends, is where the fad is killing us.

      1. Who the hell makes classic creme brulee from a mix????!! Yuck!

        Boo on that restaurant!! It’s eggs, sugar, cream, vanilla.

        There’s no mix involved in creating this delicious dessert. I had 8–count ’em–8 creme brulees while traveling on my vacation this past month (I know, I know, I’m a piggy 🙂 ) and there is NO GLUTEN involved in making a decent creme brulee. I have made it many times.

        Makes me nuts when people ruin a perfectly good (and obviously safe for celiacs) classic recipe.

          1. Hi Mom,
            er, wellll……my thighs think I went overboard on the creme brulees 🙂
            but I really did have a great 5 -week vacation to Florida (we drove from NY) and I ate out several times without a single incident. (whew!)

            I used “Find Me Gluten Free” for reliable reviews and when I found myself in restaurants with GF menus, I just asked a few questions and was able to tell I was in good hands. If I got the “startled deer in the headlights look”, I left and found something else.

            Next trip, shall I give you a shout??

  3. This makes me angry. Back in 2004, my step mother was following all the stupid diet crazes of the time and I’m pretty sure the South Beach Diet was one of them. Because of this diet and one of the rules being “eat whole wheat everything” my step mom bought a BOX OF WHEAT GLUTEN and was putting it in EVERYTHING the family ate. This is when I discovered I can’t eat gluten. I started getting very sick and it was a pretty terrible time for me. Luckily, it wasn’t too long before I was diagnosed because it was very obvious it was a food triggering my symptoms.
    So how can this diet just change it’s mind about what kind of diet it is?? Doesn’t that prove that it wasn’t a good diet in the first place? Clearly they are just trying to make money! First going after the fad of eating more whole wheat and now not eating gluten!!! UGH!

    1. While I think there may be some valid points to the original south beach diet, it’s still a sales pitch to make money. Nothing more…nothing less.

      1. My husband and I used the South Beach Diet after he had a massive heart attack. We lost weight as well as fat inches. We felt great and had tremendous energy. We are not as strict about it now and have felt the consequences. Everyone we know that went on this diet lost weight and inches and felt better. It is a great diet and the food tastes fabulous. It is also very work intensive (why we are not on it constantly) but it teaches you how to pick the better food. I don’t know if I will go for the gluten free book but I might.

  4. I was shopping in Earth Fare and saw two women cruising the frozen bread aisle. One of them stopped at an end cap and grabbed a loaf of ener g white rice flour bread and began looking at it as if it were an Australopithecus anthropus skull. The second shopper grabbed a loaf of the same bread and also closely examined the thing with the same grim intensity as the first shopper. “Well” said the first, “it’s a lot cheaper than some of the others” and the second nodded and they dropped them in their respective buggies. This was the same bread that my grandpa compared to the volcanic sand on Iwo Jima.

    I stopped and politely asked if they or someone in their family had Celiac. “No” they said in unison, it was for themselves to lose weight. I grabbed my ginormous gut and said “Do I look thin?” and not waiting for an answer said “I do have Celiac disease and gluten free is not a weight loss diet. There are more starches and highly refined white rice flour in that bread than even Wonderbread. And it tastes like volcanic sand. Eat less, exercise more, which is what I’m trying to do because of the gluten free diet I have to be on.” With emphasis on the ‘because of the gluten free diet’, Then I walked away feeling quite smug. Later, I saw they went ahead and bought that crappy (to me and my grandpa, anyway) stuff. Oh well, I’d love to see them pretend to enjoy it.

    1. LOL! I love your story, David! How true it is! People will listen to whatever random “doctor” they have on morning/daytime TV shows that will spew gluten free at them.

    2. I feel that way all the time when I see “dieters” or skinny people trying to get skinnier. I want to yell” I HAVE to be gluten free and I gained 94lbs in a year!!! I am not thin! Have fun with THAT!

  5. Celiac Mindwarp

    I am a bit mixed here, because my gluten free journey started when I did Atkins, and worked out wheat was not my friend when I reintroduced it.

    I think I would like to see a section in books like this which describes celiac and ncgi, to help people recognize when gluten may be a medical issue, and to show people about things like cc.

    Personally, I have found a low carb approach beneficial.

    I’d need to read it to decide if I had the energy to be angry 🙂

    1. I completely agree that those selling a gluten-free diet as a weight-loss aid have some responsibility to at least mention the medical conditions treated by the diet. Just to make the distinction. Just so that someone who has read the book and followed the diet realises that for some of us this is not a fad. That we can’t just stop doing it because we have lost the weight (I wish!)/are finding it difficult/want to have a cake when a colleague has a birthday.

      Let’s face it, more people will buy and read this book than will buy/read one written by a gastro-enterologist or one of the many coeliac/celiac societies based around the globe, and this may be a reader’s prime source of information on the gluten-free lifestyle. In order to raise awareness of CD, DH and NCGI it would be useful if high-profile, well-publicised publications such as this could make the distinction between a lifestyle choice and a lifestyle necessity.

  6. I just discovered that there was a South Beach – Gluten Free book yesterday when I saw this posting from MindBodyGreen,

    I feel that this is just another person trying to cash in on the gluten free “craze”. I think I would have felt differently if he teamed up with a Celiac Disease expert such as Dr. Green, Dr. Guandalini, Dr. Fassano and RDs like Tricia Thompson or Shelley Case to write this book.

      1. 50%–yes, I’d like to see the source of this claim.
        This is my biggest concern with anyone who spouts random numbers and percentages about anything related to gluten/celiac and does not show us the data. People make fun of me when I cite sources, I know, and so be it–but I do not believe things just because someone”says so”.
        Call me skeptical, but I bet I am in good (and sane) company. 🙂

  7. None of this surprises me. Now that I have to eat gluten free for the REST of my life, it really annoys me when I see people who don’t have Celiac disease telling everyone how they lost tons of weight. I would not wish this disease on anyone—even though I am feeling so much better. Go drink some beer and eat some pizza.

    1. Understand your frustration. Just remember there are many out there who are indeed gluten sensitive who abstain from gluten for health reasons. Let’s be sure not to lump them into the fadders.

  8. I’m torn. Really, really torn about this one.

    1. This stupid gf diet to lose weight stuff is awful and hurts us all.

    2. I discovered the beginning of my “figuring out food issues” while on the South Beach diet (as a part of a medical study). Even though the offender was wrong, it was what opened my eyes to the fact that the food I eat could be causing the problem.

    When I did the South Beach, I never got through the first phase (went down with a major kidney infection), but I felt great. Low carb, nothing processed, no corn, no wheat, etc. I would have appreciated the knowledge then that food allergies were the cause and I wish I would have known to get tested rather than trusting the study doctor that “lots of people have corn intolerances, and its probably that”. I switched from corn products to wheat products and felt a little better, but was still sick all the time.

    It is ENTIRELY POSSIBLE that they could lose 10 pounds in the two weeks – he’s proven that with the original South Beach diet. However, once they move onto phase 2, that’s when the weight loss would stop because all they would be doing is moving in Gluten Free Substitutes for the original products that did the damage in the first place. So unless he does some education that tells people how to tell if its really a gluten issue or not, the whole point is kinda worthless.

    I also wonder about how Kraft feels about this book – not one of the preprocessed crap items that he sells on behalf of the diet are GF. And I wonder how many poor people are going to get confused about that.

    1. That’s a great question about Kraft.

      And I hear you on the healthy part of the diet. But saying gluten-free means nothing if you’re replacing the gluten with crap.

  9. I am one of those celiacs who gained weight (some of it necessary) when I finally began absorbing nutrients again about 15 months after DX. BUT, I zoomed up so fast, I did not see it happening ( and my BUTT grew too)

    Starches and carbs = weight gain. Now, I need to lose weight.

    SURE!! Going GF may result in an INITIAL weight loss for people and yes, they may full well come to realize they feel better off gluten, (whoohoo!) but the truth is…many of them will not stay on the diet. Guaranteed!! Soon, the lure of gluten will return (beer, pizza, bagels, croissants…) and they will fall off the GF wagon, saying “it did not work”. (I have seen it many times in people who think they will lose weight fast for bikini season) 🙂

    The only way anyone can lose weight and keep it off is to (1) eat less starchy crap and (b) exercise more…yup!! that’s the “BIG SECRET” everyone! –posted right here ……for free!! –whether you are a celiac or not..

    After 8 creme brulees this past month, I should talk! LOL….I hit the gym tomorrow morning. 🙂


    I’m fine with a book about varying levels of gluten sensitivity; I’m even fine with the idea that in some (or maybe even many) people, taking out gluten can be one part of the weight loss puzzle (as it may take away some bloating or constipation that can contribute to higher weight and/or appearance of a higher weight, or because it lends some additional energy/edge thereby allowing for better workouts, or because it’s simply a handy means to cutting out processed crap).

    I just really, really don’t want people to start experimenting with “gluten awareness” before they KNOW whether or not they have celiac disease, or else they may wind up doing themselves more harm than good.

  11. I’m so happy that I saw this blog article, because I’ve been thinking the exact same thing lately. Although I do not have a pure celiac allergy (where I go into anaphylactic shock). I am highly gluten sensitive (and also cannot eat sugars, soy, etc).

    I literally cannot eat these foods, or even be exposed to them without literally having a physical reaction (including breaking out into rashes, acne, developing anxiety, body aches, headaches and severe digestive issues, etc;). Since I’ve stopped eating grains, I no longer wake up sick in the mornings, and remaining sick throughout the day. It’s been an unimaginable blessing for me.

    This has forced me to make everything from scratch to avoid gluten/soy because they put it in every processed product. I can’t even eat at office functions, save there is something (like gluten) used in seasonings that could make me sick. I’ve learned the hard way too many times..

    I would prefer not to live this way, but it’s not a choice, it’s a necessity. And I get genuinely angry at people who are just going gluten free to lose a few pounds or because they’re following a fad diet. Dr. Oz is promoting the use of almond flour for the general population. Now the price of almond flour has shot up $9 within a month.

    Even idiots at my office who are just going paleo to lose weight and help out with their physical training. Buying gluten free almond or coconut flours, while eating their other flour and sugar laden goodies. It really infuriates me. People like this drive up the prices for the people who actually need the products for health reasons.

    I know will sound mean to non celiacs or people without gluten sensitivity issues, but really, just stay away, because in a year you will not be following this diet, most likely. It just drives up the price for people, like myself, who must stay on a gluten-free diet, or else get extremely sick. I just wish they would forget about the gluten free diet. For some of us, it’s not a choice to live gluten free, it’s the only way we can live a normal life.

    1. Hi Chrissy,
      Just to clarify, celiac disease is not an allergy
      and it does not cause anaphylaxis.

      Some people do have allergies in conjunction with celiac, however.

      Glad to hear you are feeling better off gluten and enjoying better health!

      1. Thanks Irish Heart,
        I’ve always been afraid to call what I have celiac disease, because the people in my life still don’t take it seriously or understand how serious my reaction to wheat and all grains are. Most who’ve seen me lose weight on a gluten free diet are trying to jump on board to lose weight, which really, really irritates me.

        But, yeah, I feel 1000 percent better off wheat and all grains.

  12. Back in October I was doing a 5 day hike on the AT and had to call it quits due to what, I’m convinced, was a reaction to a Sulfa drug I was on. Flu-like symptoms, stomach pain, numbness in my fingertips, dehydration and extreme fatigue to the point of collapse. I’ve not been the same since. $10,000 worth of testing later and I’m no closer to an answer than I was before. I started “researching” and in the process of trying to find out about a “cleanse” that would eliminate bad bacteria from my gastro, I realized that what was being suggested was basically a gluten-free diet. When my sister suggested an article in the latest issue of Prevention magazine I bought it and consequently the book it was excerpted from. Yep, you guessed it. The South Beach Gluten Solution. I’m hoping for some answers. I’ve struggled with IBS my entire life but it was pretty much under control until my AT fiasco. My gastro doc wants to send me to the Mayo Clinic. Any suggestions? And yes, I blood-tested negative for Celiac.

    I’d appreciate any help you could pass along.

    1. Fyi- before you travel to the Mayo Clinic, check which test you tested negative for celiac. I think my dx was missed for many years due to false negative, due to IgA deficiency. Will never be positive. Maybe test IgA levels or do an IgG? Good luck getting answers..

  13. Yeah, I know you tried real hard in your inbred snarkiness to deride this book…but guess what…South Beach Diet is NOT a fad, many of us have gluten intolerance, the South Beach diet literally saved my life… and your review, uh, to sound like you…it sucked.

    Guess you’re awfully jealous of those 23,000,000 copies that actually sold.

    This is the first and last time I read anything by you.

    Go back to bartending.

  14. p.s. It’s so obvious you didn’t even read the book, or else you’d know he’s not just jumping on “another fad.”


    Now I’m done with you. Happy? You got the attention you so sorely crave.

    1. Julie…why the rage?

      If you can see past your built up anger, I explicitly stated that I never read the book and I was only commenting on the fact that he has re-released the book to jump on the gluten free fad.

      I give full credence to gluten intolerance. If you’ve got it, why aren’t you on my side?

      Again…I don’t mind anybody disagreeing with me. But is there any need to be so hateful about it?


  15. I just had to comment on this thread as I HAVE read the book.

    1. Gluten Solution is NOT a re-release of the original South Beach Diet book.
    2. Dr. Agatston wrote the book as a result of his research into gluten sensitivity after so many of his patients (he’s a cardiologist who came up with the South Beach diet to help his patients reduce their risk of heart disease) reported a reduction of various health issues after being on the initial two week South Beach phase one program, which is strictly grain (not just wheat) free. Many reported a return of their symptoms once they moved to phase two, which does contain whole grains – including wheat. He wondered why, so found out.
    3. He explains very thoroughly the difference between celiac disease and gluten sensitivity and is extremely up front that true celiacs can never eat any amount of gluten and that gluten sensitivity can range from mild to severe. He also explains that the symptoms of celiac and gluten sensitivity are different.
    4. He is not selling the book as a pure “diet” book – South Beach does that very well – but has written it to modify the basic healthy eating principles of South Beach to those who may have a problem with gluten overload.

    So, glutendude, I suggest that you don’t spout off and pan something that you don’t know anything about.

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Who I am. And who I'm not.

Who I am. And who I'm not.

I AM someone who's been gluten-free since 2007 due to a diagnosis of severe celiac disease. I'm someone who can steer you in the right direction when it comes to going gluten-free. And I'm someone who will always give you the naked truth about going gluten free.

I AM NOT someone who embraces this gluten-free craziness. I didn’t find freedom, a better life or any of that other crap when I got diagnosed. With all due respect to Hunter S. Thompson, I found fear and loathing of an unknown world. But if I can share my wisdom, tell my stories and make the transition easier on you, I’ve done my job.

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